You may not know that I came from Dutch dairy farming roots – or that I grew up in an agricultural community. I bottle-fed baby calves and cleaned out their pens – I spent my fair share of time in barn boots and learned to drive on a tiny tractor. While today I live in Seattle proper, my roots run deep and my affection for dairy farmers will never fade.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Art of Milk in Duvall, WA. When I stepped out of my car, I had to choke back a sudden wave of emotion – the smell of a dairy farm was an unexpected throw-back to my childhood memories of grandpa’s farm.
I recently spoke to a room full of 800+ at Women 2.0 in San Francisco about Farmstr. I started the whole talk by telling them I had nostalgia for cow manure. I then told them that Farmstr.com launched, is growing, has over 70 farmers posting offers online and is making a difference in Western Washington – and that we have plans to expand to other cities and across the country. All thanks to a team that knows this food and tech domain ‘down to the cow pie.’
I just resisted posting photos of cow pies. And fortunately for you, computers have not yet solved for scratch and sniff.
Here is what I want you to know: I have written [this blog] Talk of Tomatoes for 8+ years. I am a blogger, urban farmer, trained chef and businesswoman. I have a lot of really cool foodie friends and talented business partners. I know a lot of farmers. And I now run Farmstr.com, an online marketplace where small, organic-quality farmers, fishers and ranchers can sell direct to consumers like you and I. We launched September 2013 in the Pacific Northwest.
Why? I was concerned about food safety, quality, Big Ag, GMO’s, hormones, feed lots – you get the idea. So I angled to source clean food from local farmers through bulk buy groups – and found them to just scratch the surface of a much larger problem. These groups were managed by volunteers, payments were scattered, and ultimately we were buying from too few farmers. There are nearly 40,000 small farmers in Washington state alone – many small, passionate, sustainable farmers with extra food and too few customers. I wanted to help more farmers – and friends wanted to find them. Farmstr helps consumers find and buy direct from countless local farmers, and helps organic-quality farmers sell their food and grow their local customer base.
Farmstr’s platform is a direct sales marketplace where you can access and get to know local, sustainable farmers, fishers, ranchers (including urban farmers). When you buy direct instead of through markets or stores, you tend to pay less as there are fewer costs (think inventory, warehouse, labor, re-packaging, sorting, hard assets). Farmers prefer to sell direct for a number of reasons: it takes the least amount of time so they can focus on farming, they keep higher margins than when they sell through indirect channels, and they get to meet their customers – you! – and develop relationships.
As much as you and I want to know our food and know our farmer, those local producers also want to know you. They want to meet the folks who appreciate their food – food that is an outpouring of their passion for clean, non-GMO, non chemical-laden food. One of our farmers literally sources local clean grains and hand-mixes feed daily for his pigs. And Art who I met – whose dairy farm I visited and whose raw cow milk I buy – is passionate about his farm, his practices and his product. These are my farmers… and I was able to access them and buy direct (and directly support them) thanks to Farmstr.com.
So now you know. If you live in the PNW you can hop onto Farmstr and find your local farmers, fishers, ranchers. If you don’t live here – don’t worry – we are coming your way. If you do have pals in the PNW, do our local farmers here a favor – and the chance to thrive – by emailing your friends and encouraging them to buy locally farmed food through Farmstr. Whether you are near or far – please join our ‘rodeo’ and sign up for the Farmstr Newsletter, and track our whereabouts on your favorite social channels. Farmstr.com is on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Facebook (check out Art’s farm!) and Instagram.
Coming soon: our ‘Farmstr Fodder‘ blog, full of recipes and farmer profiles, video clips, food bloggers, news and agriculture.
Want to learn more (job/intern, media, partner opportunities, website query)? Feel free to email us. And check out our recent article in the March edition of Seattle Magazine (And yes – that is a real llama – and yes, it drooled on me!) and interview on Northwest Cable News Tech Talk and King 5 News. Plus, soak up recent ‘Farmstr’ posts and farm-food inspired recipes from local PNW farm-loving bloggers:
- Sonnet from In Sonnet’s Kitchen teaches how to ‘spatchcock’ a chicken, discusses the difference between factory chickens & pastured chickens, and has a commercial-worthy picture of Farmer Bradley from Windy N Ranch (whose pastured chickens just earned the photo shoot of their lives).
- Maria food and pastry blogger of Pink Patisserie, lives in Issaquah, WA, near our newest and latest partner drop-site, The Issaquah Grange. Watch for her column in the Issaquah Press and check out her farm-salad with greens sold by Indianola Organics: Spring Greens, Farro, Beet & Citrus Salad.
- Megan from Wanna Be a Country Cleaver took Loki’s sustainable salmon and created a taste of Spring: Salmon w/couscous and asparagus – the pictures speak volumes.